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Game 14: More of the same

Adding injury to insult.

Today’s 6-3 loss to Tampa Bay certainly wasn’t as ugly as yesterday’s game, but that’s not saying much. The Yankees have set the bar pretty low this season and are now 5-9. Yes, it’s still early and there’s plenty of time to right the ship. But I must admit: I’m getting tired of writing about how this team is too talented to perform like this. While it’s true, it’s frustrating to watch. Get it together already.

On top of the general sluggish play, that this kind of performance continues to happen against the Rays makes it even worse. The Yankees have now lost four of five to Tampa Bay this season. Clearly, it’s not just about the Trop being a house of horrors for the Yankees, either. Tampa Bay has simply dominated the Bombers for a while now.

Let’s get to today’s takeaways after the jump.

The Yankees should have sent Tyler Glasnow packing early. The Rays’ ace clearly didn’t have his best stuff in this one, at least to start things out. He threw 30 pitches in the first inning, though it would have been fewer if not for Joey Wendle’s throwing error. Still, Glasnow had to battle but the Yankees just could not come through again and again. The Bombers loaded the bases in both the first and second innings, but came away with just one run total.

I’m less inclined to complain about the first inning mainly because the quality of at-bats in the second frame were far worse. Frankly, the first inning at-bats weren’t terrible, particularly after the error put runners on the corners with one out for Gleyber Torres. The shortstop fell behind 0-2 to Glasnow, which is basically a death knell. Instead, he fought back for a walk to load the bases for Brett Gardner. Glasnow got the best of Gardner, but it took seven pitches to do so.

In the second, both Gary Sánchez and Gio Urshela walked to lead off the inning. Glasnow was wild and nowhere near the zone. So naturally, after Rougned Odor took ball one on the first pitch, he popped out. At first, the aggression annoyed me considering the two walks in a row, but it’s not like Odor swung at a bad pitch.

The Odor at-bat.

That was a 96 MPH fastball over the heart of the plate. Missing pitches over the heart of the plate was a running theme in this one. At least DJ LeMahieu picked up Odor with an RBI single thereafter, which leveled the score at 1 at that stage.

After LeMahieu came Judge, who simply had an awful at-bat.

For the record: Judge reluctantly hacked at an eye-level fastball, then took a fastball right down the pipe to fall behind 0-2. He got one more middle-middle fastball, but whiffed to strike out. Aaron Hicks lined out softly thereafter to end the frame.

Glasnow made the Yankees pay for bailing him out. After LeMahieu’s single, the righty retired eight in a row and 11 of the last 12 batters he faced. I know Glasnow has nasty stuff even when he’s off his game, but this is a scenario that a good Yankees offense should capitalize on.

Tampa Bay’s starter basically only had his fastball “working” for him today. Saying it was effective almost gives him too much credit considering some of the fastballs the Yankees took or missed against him. Glasnow went to his heater 63 percent of the time this afternoon and recorded 10 whiffs on 33 swings (30 percent). His two breaking balls really weren’t effective for him today. Look at the locations on them:

All over the place. The Yankees weren’t going after them at all, swinging at just 8 of 37 breaking balls. Opponents have typically swung at half of Glasnow’s sliders and/or curveballs in the early going. You could say that the Yankees actually did a decent enough job eliminating those pitches. Of course, the problem again is that they missed fastballs over the plate.

Missing middle-middle mistakes. It wasn’t just against Glasnow that the Yankees’ lineup had bad at-bats against. The Yankees finally had something cooking again in the seventh inning against the Rays bullpen. Rougned Odor hit a home run (a 443-foot bomb) against southpaw Jeffrey Springs, which made it 5-2 at the time. It was one of the few mistake pitches that the Yankees actually squared up.

Kevin Cash summoned Colin McHugh thereafter to face the top of the Yankees’ order with one out. LeMahieu singled and then scored on Aaron Judge’s double to cut the deficit to two runs. Judge actually fell behind 0-2 in that at-bat on two hanging sliders, by the way, but fortunately he made up for that.

So, the struggling Aaron Hicks became the tying run at the dish. Today’s theme returned in his at-bat, which ended in a strikeout:

Pitches one and four were right there, but Hicks fouled them off before the strikeout. Giancarlo Stanton was next, albeit against Ryan Thompson:

Yes, Thompson is tough on righties from the angle he throws, but Stanton’s approach was bad here. He whiffed and took sliders up and over the middle, then chased one for strike three. From there, the Yankees went down quietly in the 8th and 9th.

Bad at-bats and not punishing meatballs is always a recipe for disaster. The Yankees scored just three runs but should have scored a whole lot more. Look at this heatmap which contains swinging strikes, fouls, and called strikes against Tampa Bay pitchers.

Aaron Boone and Gleyber Torres bungled the top of the seventh inning. When it rains, it pours. The offense obviously had another lackluster day, but a disjointed seventh inning turned out to be the difference in this game, especially considering that the Yankees plated a couple of runs in the bottom half.

The first curious decision: why did Aaron Boone decide to push Jordan Montgomery for a seventh inning? It’s not that the lefty wasn’t pitching well. He was decent enough through six, in spite of a couple of homers allowed (I’ll touch on Monty in the Leftovers), but when you have Gerrit Cole going tomorrow and a day off on Monday, go to your top relievers in a late and close game. Not to mention that this was the third time through the order for Montgomery.

The decision to stretch Montgomery backfired immediately. He issued a four pitch walk to Mike Brosseau to start the inning. Then, after ball one to Manuel Margot, Boone lifted his starter. Honestly: does the batter-by-batter approach ever work? I know non-Cole starters have struggled to give length this season, but I think you need to take a solid six from Montgomery and run with it, especially with this past Thursday off and none of the top relievers used yesterday. And again, you have Cole going tomorrow and Monday off. Go to the team’s strength, it’s bullpen! Just bad managing right there. Not only are the players looking sheepish and without focus, but so is Boone.

Even with Boone’s questionable decision, Jonathan Loaisiga almost bailed him out. Margot just beat out a double play and then should have been thrown out a second stealing. Kyle Higashioka made a perfect throw, but Gleyber Torres simply whiffed. It’s the type of fundamental mistake we’ve seen Torres make on a number of occasions so far. Day by day, Torres looks like less of a shortstop.

Instead of two outs and no one on, there was one out with Margot on second. Loaisiga retired Francisco Mejía for the second out. Maybe that could have been the third. Unfortunately though, a team can only get away with so many mistakes in a game, let alone an inning. Joey Wendle made them pay.

Leftovers

  • Boone said that Gary Sánchez won’t play tomorrow after leaving this game early. That’s not a surprise, but at least X-Rays were negative on his hand. Hopefully he can return Tuesday against Atlanta.
  • Jordan Montgomery surrendered homers to Mike Brosseau and Manuel Margot today, but I think he was mostly quite effective. He didn’t allow too many baserunners (4), limited hard contact (80.8 MPH exit velocity against — 86.3 if you remove the bunt), and saw an uptick in velocity (93.4 MPH, +1.8). The lefty was efficient and needed just over 80 pitches to complete six frames. The pitch count likely was why Boone pushed him for a seventh.
  • Hitters four through eight were hitless in 17 at-bats, though they drew three walks. That won’t work.

Gerrit Cole goes to the mound tomorrow in attempt to avoid a sweep. Same time, same place. Have a good rest of your Saturday.

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15 Comments

  1. Patience is mine sayeth Boone Cashman! I have watched Tampa and Toronto both hit the other way against the shift. The Yankees, even with four outfielders and three IF on the same side disdain that approach. Why? I have watched them swing at ladder pitches(High). Low and outside(a Stantonion whiff) It’s one reason why opposing pitchers never have a high pitch count. Cashman went back to a rotation that reminds me of the three rookies year.(Only here is four TJ years) Boone treats DJ like a rich man’s Tyler Wade. If I hear Michael Kay talk about Hicks staying in the strike zone. In fact all batters should learn it. If you have to raise your hands, bend down, or lean over the plate…why swing? I agree on King. Pitched well, send him down because of pitch count. Yet, Nelson won’t be used until next week. Same time frame. I hate Cessa. It seems he enters to put the game on ice for the other team. The reason to keep the staff is so Cash can get them on the cheap next year. As punishment, take away their gold chains until they play better.

  2. Bonnie Daseball

    No reactionarys here!

  3. Keith

    Call Buck Showalters immediately and give Boone his walking papers!

  4. Where’s the Aaron Boone Evaluation Survey at?

  5. Cary Green

    It’s way too early to panic. However some things need to be fixed and I think it starts with the defense.

    1. Call up Chris Gittens & move DJ LeMahieu back to second base permanently. Now you have a tremendously good right side of the infield. The naysayers will point out Gittens has never played above AA and that Mike Ford is next in line anyway. But Gittens is the superior defender and he showed this spring that he can hit just fine. He’s also 27. Give him a shot now please!!! Ford needs to show he can still be the guy we saw in 2019 and he can do that in the minors.
    Bringing him up and letting him demonstrate whatever he’s going to demonstrate while playing below average defense is not going to help the team.

    2. Demote Nelson. Needs to work on his control and his secondary pitches. He was all over the freaking zone the other day. Awful. Overmatched. Needs more time at AAA clearly.

    3. Give the fifth starter position to Michael King for now. Simple fix.

    4. We wanted Lindor, but we got Odor. That’s a raw deal and it’s a terrible excuse not to play DJ at second base where he is most impactful. Abandon this experiment immediately. Unfortunately that means bringing Tyler Wade back up. And?

    5. Now is not the time but as a deadline draws near the Yankees need to look at further fixing the bad defense. SS, 1B & C are particularly bad and Clint Frazier isn’t exactly impressive this year either. For now, Tauchman needs to play more but trading Frazier while they can still get something for him is probably a good idea. For whatever reason the team is infatuated with Gardner so this whole redundancy issue needs to be cleared up. The Yankee lineup is very unbalanced. Tauchman clearly needs to play more and he’s a plus defender so playing him helps fix what’s wrong.

    6. Start Higgy. Plain and simple. He handles the pitching staff better than Sanchez does. Playing him more may help the staff get back on track to where they need to be. It was really tough watching Nelson shake Sanchez off repeatedly during the first inning the other day. I saw all I needed to see. Sanchez is just not on the same page with his staff & he does a poor job handling them.

    7. I imagine this would be difficult but if Gary Sanchez can be traded by the All-Star break I think the Yankees should do it. For now the Yankees should look for a better defensive alignment behind the play and Higgy can provide that providing he gets some relief from another good defensive catcher.

    8. Voit will return soon and when he does Gittens still needs to be the everyday first baseman. This pushes Stanton into the outfield mix. Voit obviously still plays some first base but he’s the primary DH. He shares it with Judge and Stanton. This means that Stanton needs to start working his way into the outfield now. The Yankees need to do this to return him to his former self. This was a talking point in the off-season. Stanton feels that by playing the field he stays looser and more engaged. He wants to be out there. The Yankees don’t want to risk him getting injured. It’s a chance they have to take and they don’t have to play him every day. But they need to start working him back into the outfield soon.

    9. Stop playing Garty everyday and start using him as a late game defensive replacement.

    I think if the team does these things in the short term and as we approach the trade deadline that the season can still be salvaged but damages being done right now and granted it’s early but the Yankees need to start acting decisively if they’re going to fix this mess.

    • Brent Lawson

      Have to 100% agree.
      This will not happen, but to quote my wife, a Red Sox huge fan, ” you need to fire both your manager and general manager. Surfer boy doesn’t have anyone on his “page” and Cashman has spent most of his career looking up at us.”

      The problem with that is, I’m not sure Hal cares beyond the bottom line.

    • Gerreddardit Cole

      It’s never too early to panic. I’d call up Ford and cut Bruce. Ford showed a lot 2 years ago. Last year was a stange year. Agree on Mike King. The guy has thrown 9 scoreless innings and keeps getting sent down while Nelson stays. And where is Deivi? They trusted him in the postseason but not in April? Clint needs to play more. Catch Higgy more and DH Gary. The only reason we’ve won a game this week is because of Higgy.

  6. To answer that question about batter-to-batter -> Yes. It probably works more often than any of us realize. It’s just that you don’t necessarily notice that it’s batter-to-batter if the pitcher keeps getting them out.

    It’s like asking about whether there’s ever a successful cover-up. Well, if done correctly, then you would never know there was a cover-up, would you?

  7. Gerreddardit Cole

    One game away from that sweep I wanted, Derek, and we will get swept tomorrow. The Rays are just a better organization from top to bottom. Better FO, better coaching staff, better training staff, better players, better fans. After the sweep tomorrow the entire FO, Boone, Thames should be let go. Heads need to roll. This club shows no life and they’ve quit on Boone. Not even his team meeting worked. And he didn’t even go out and get tossed today. With that bad ump tomorrow he best get tossed early to try to light a spark and with any luck it’ll burn down the entire Stadium.

    • Brent Lawson

      Needs to happen, but it won’t
      Cashman has to much ego invested in the Boone hire and he still think he can get past the shadow of Gene Michael.

  8. Jim Graber

    Let Boone go back to the booth

  9. Alex

    Maybe, just maybe, one day Hal wakes up from his long nap and realizes that he needs to make sweeping changes across this organization, starting with firing Cashman.

    A new General Manager and front office apparatus (how many more awful drafts is this team going to have before Oppenheimer is canned?) is badly needed. Hal should be on the phone as we speak trying to poach as many people from the Rays and Dodgers front offices as possible.

    • Jason

      Will Hal give the next guy the same low luxury tax mandate tho? He seems content with a great team and making money. Don’t see how that would change with another GM and the same mandate.

      Oppenheimer should’ve been fired years ago. The fact that Aaron Judge is the only first rd pick to be successful with this team the past decade is embarrassing as the NYY. He was a project too!!

  10. Jason

    They started off slow in 2009, everything will be fine cause Jeter will…oh. Let’s try that again.
    They started off slow in 2019, made the ALCS! Then they bottled it vs the Astros(who once again, started their season hot). I’m sorry, I’m getting tired of these slow start comparisons especially since this core does it worse than the last.

    This team will figure it out and be great, but they are not great enough to win it all. We were spoiled and it’s lead to Hal handcuffing Cashman and wasting some winnable years. On to the next game.

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